When Can Someone Start To Teach Jiu Jitsu?

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Oct 28, 2015 2:30:00 PM



About 10 years ago, there were many schools that were run by blue belts. Now, although it may sound insane to many of you, these blue belts were only running schools because they were in regions where there were literally no other belts around. The schools were small, so they didn’t have the funds to fly-in any high level instructors to stay and teach. They either had to travel to the nearest city with a qualified instructor or trust in the teachings of a blue belt. This practice still occurs today, generally in more remote regions. 

There are many different levels of blue belts as well. Some blues have a very shallow knowledge base, only using a couple of techniques that work well for them, but there are also extremely ‘geeky’ blue belts that have a huge technical knowledge base but have not been able to practically apply all of them yet – that comes with time and practice. Sometimes they are able to teach these techniques that they themselves have not really used all that much. 

After all these different scenarios, the question remains: When is someone ready to pass on jiu-jitsu knowledge? At what level should they do this? 

The general consensus in the BJJ community has always been that at purple belt, you can begin to be an assistant instructor. For example, Kron Gracie was already teaching at his father’s school at purple belt. And although we are talking about a high-level practitioner in Kron, this is the general Gracie way of allowing practitioners to start teaching.

Purple belt is also considered to be the beginning of “advanced” jiu-jitsu. Many years ago, when jiu-jitsu was a little less popular abroad, even in the United States, there weren’t even belt divisions – especially in no-gi. Divisions were divided by experience – beginner, intermediate, and advanced. These left the boundaries of what is considered to be “experienced” quite open. But generally, white belts would compete in beginner, blue belts would compete in intermediate, and purple, brown, and black belts would all be clumped together into advanced. Even in the earlier days of the Abu Dhabi World Pro, purple, brown, and black belts were all in one division. So this helps enforce the general consensus that purple is already advanced and thus can start teaching at gyms, and if there is a need in the community, they can open schools and teach beginners.

The bottom line is that anyone with sufficient knowledge can really teach depending on the circumstances. BJJ needs to continue to grow. If a blue belt has to open a gym because there is no other choice, then so be it. It’s better to train than not to train at all. But as a general rule of thumb, it seems that purple belt is the more broadly accepted level where you can accept someone as a teacher (depending on your situation).








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Topics: Academy Etiquette

How Necessary Is Strict Discipline in Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments?

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Jul 2, 2015 4:30:00 PM


We’ve seen it all before when watching tournaments: from turtle-slow belt tying to running around the mat space in celebration, BJJ allows it all – but is it really a bad thing? That all depends on what you expect from a sport based on a martial art. In judo, discipline is of the utmost importance. Judo is mentioned here as a comparison to jiu-jitsu because they share the same roots.

In judo, discipline is upheld for almost every single thing. This includes bowing at the mats every time you enter and exit, making sure all your fingernails and toenails are trimmed, your gi is properly closed and washed, your belt is properly tied and so forth. These are rules that apply in the dojo and at tournaments. 

Tournaments have their own additional set of rules in judo. Competitors are to bow in upon entering the mats. They must then bow again before entering the inner circle of the mat space and once more once they reach the ref. All of these practices are formalities, but we have seen that BJJ is not nearly as strict, especially in most gyms. You’ve surely noticed at least once or twice someone at your gym with a horrible smelling gi. In a proper judo gym, they would have been asked to leave. Few instructors put in the effort to even make sure their students tie their belts properly. 

But that’s just in class - at BJJ tournaments, we can see guys do all sorts of crazy things; celebrating for 30 seconds after the match has finished, not properly tying their belts for the arm-raise, talking during the matches, or even talking back to refs. In judo, these things are basically forbidden. If you talk during the match or if you take too long to tie your belt, then you get penalized. 

BJJ has made an effort to mimic many of these judo rules. However, many are not implemented as strictly as they should be. But the big question is, does it really matter to have all these rules? They don’t really effect how good you are at jiu-jitsu, so what does it matter? It is a matter of opinion, but it comes down to pride in the sport and martial arts and how you want to carry yourself on the mat. If you work at a bank or office, why bother putting on a tie? You can get the same work done in shorts and a t-shirt. Things like tying your belt properly, maintaining personal hygiene, and bowing when entering the mats are reflections of yourself and are also respectful to your teammates and teachers. If you burst into excitement at a tournament, and run in front of your teammates in the stands and cheer while the ref and your opponent are waiting to close the match, it’s disrespectful. If you tie your belt poorly at the end of a match with your gi half open, it’s just messy and can also be seen as disrespectful. Ultimately, it is necessary to have these rules to uphold the image of the sport. Many dream of jiu-jitsu becoming an Olympic sport one day, and having a high level of organization is definitely a requirement. 




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Topics: Academy Etiquette, Tournament/Competition Tips

Why Opening An Academy Is So Great

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Jun 25, 2015 5:10:00 PM



Opening your own academy (the dream of any hardcore jiu-jitsu practitioner) cannot be a reality for many, as most have chosen to be professionals in other areas. If you are unhappy with your current workplace situation or if you ever wanted to run your own business, opening a gym can be worth some serious consideration.

The beautiful thing about an academy is that there is actually a lot more room for creativity in starting one than people expect. You can really make the gym your own interpretation of what you think is necessary. For example, the academy doesn’t have to be just jiu-jitsu; you can attach whatever other activities that you think help accommodate jiu-jitsu and the healthy lifestyle that is associated with it. Activities like crossfit, yoga, general weight training, muay thai, and other fitness activities are all suitable and will also help draw more people into your business. 

There are also great personal benefits when owning your own gym. You get to work in a field you love and contribute to spreading jiu-jitsu around the world. In addition to making a living from jiu-jitsu, you could also potentially have more time to train. For a lot of people that are not BJJ professionals, finding time to train can be very difficult because of all the other facets of life that needs to be juggled; family, work, chores, and other hobbies. However, by combining jiu-jitsu and work in the form of an academy, you can possibly find more time to pop onto the mats. On the other hand, some professionals may actually find it more difficult to properly train, depending on how they choose to run their academy. Their attention is usually divided amongst teaching and managing the business. Hopefully, you will eventually have a team of students ready to help you train more often and assist in running the business. Whether you’re the instructor, manager, or investor, this will all help you with your personal jiu-jitsu game.

Another beautiful thing about opening a jiu-jitsu gym is the fact that the sport is still growing around the world. There are many cities that have an interested crowd but no qualified instructors to open a school. If you ever wanted to move abroad, with the proper research and networking you could make your dream a reality through opening a gym. Countries like Korea, Thailand, China, and parts of Europe have plenty of space for jiu-jitsu to grow and develop. There are only a handful of schools in their major cities. 

If you’re unhappy with your current job status or work-life balance, making the switch to a gym owner is an amazing idea. You will be able to build something meaningful and if it’s successful, you can pass down your knowledge and love of BJJ throughout your area.



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Topics: Academy Etiquette, BJJ in Everyday Life

What To Expect In A Good Seminar

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May 21, 2015 5:00:00 PM




Seminars are one of the best ways for someone to pick up new knowledge in jiu-jitsu. Every instructor has a different style, and while the basics of jiu-jitsu pertain to everyone (regardless of body type), the fancy and more specialized moves for your body type are sometimes harder to find and properly train. The best thing to do is to go to seminars with professors that have a similar body type to you and are famous for techniques that you can already do on a basic level. If you end up going to a seminar with them, you will hopefully be able to learn the details of the technique that you have been missing. Seminars are meant to be supplementary; they are the icing on the cake, and not the cake itself. 

This is why traveling is such an important part of jiu-jitsu. BJJ is a deep and diverse sport in which you will never stop learning. The secret is not to know and master every single move, but to know all the basics and then layer them with some trickery of your own. Almost every jiu-jitsu master has their own specialty that they have developed since early belt levels. Sometimes you have to seek out that specific instructor to really pick their mind and gain that knowledge. For example, if you’re a De La Riva user, and you highly depend on that position, first priority should be to seek out a Ricardo De La Riva seminar. Considering that he originally developed the position and has been using it for decades, it puts him levels above the competitors that use the De La Riva guard today. Also, don’t forget that guys like De La Riva have decades of teaching experience and will be able to communicate the techniques in the best way possible.

The biggest complaint you will hear after a seminar is that the professor didn’t show anything “special” or it was “too basic.” It’s true that sometimes professors don’t want to share their top stuff at seminars to people that are not part of their own academy. In the majority of cases, the only people that will say the seminar wasn’t “‘special” or was “too basic” will be those who are not experienced enough to see the finer details of a position. 

Find seminars with people that match your style. Make sure that when you are at the seminar, you really pay attention to the particular details of a position – you should hopefully find new aspects you didn’t know. You’d be surprised at how many black belts attend seminars and still come out with their eyes opened.




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Topics: Academy Etiquette, Training Hints and Tips

How to Maintain Respect in the Academy

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May 7, 2015 2:00:00 PM




Although jiu-jitsu has taken a sportive direction in many academies, it is still a martial art at heart. Of course when you get your black belt, you must be a well- rounded martial artist before you are an awesome athlete. Athleticism is not a prerequisite for being a martial arts expert, believe it or not. That being said, the type of respect we see in traditional martial arts must be upheld in the academy. Below is a list of things that are done in an academy to gain respect from both your teammates and instructors. 

  1.      Don’t talk when you roll. 

People roll because they want to focus on technique. The last thing they want is you telling them your day or commenting on the techniques while rolling. Save it for after the roll. If you’re known as the non-serious chatterbox in the gym, that won’t really bring you a lot of respect in the academy. 

  1.      Don’t be lazy. 

You know, the guy that stops doing his burpees when the instructor looks away – that guy. You may think you are tricking the instructor because he doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head, but guess what? Your teammates can see you, and if they are working hard to get warmed up, they don’t want to see you slacking off. 

  1.      Don’t be late.

This is an old one - no one likes this in any part of life. But since discipline is such a key part of martial arts, tardiness is seldom tolerated. In judo, usually you are not admitted into class if you are even a minute late – depending on the school and instructor. It seems that in BJJ, the custom is that you usually wait at the entrance until the instructor allows you in and you pay some sort of fitness fee (pushups, squats, etc.). 

  1.      Don’t be the smarty-pants.

If you’re a blue belt or higher in rank, you’ve probably seen this before – the guy who loves to sit and ask the “what if” questions. Sometimes they ask this because they think they are smart enough to stump the instructor and they won’t have an answer for any of their genius riddles. Or perhaps they genuinely don’t understand that jiu-jitsu is so multi-faceted that there is always an answer for every problem, and a problem for every solution. It is a combination of timing, pressure, and balance that defines whether a technique will be successful. Either way, too many “what if” questions could leave a bad image for you. 

  1.      Focus on the lesson.

This happens in most academies, often after the instructor shows a technique and it’s time to drill. Many students think that after three tries they are experts and either stop practicing or start something else. This is extremely disrespectful to your instructor who has a plan and curriculum you should follow, and it also shows a huge amount of arrogance. It implies that you feel like you have already mastered the techniques after so few reps. Listen to your coach and drill until they say otherwise.






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Topics: Academy Etiquette

5 Old School Rules of BJJ

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Apr 16, 2015 5:30:00 PM



Like them or not, these rules are out there. Not every gym abides by all of them, but you may find traces of at least one of these rules in your academy.

  1. Don’t ask a higher belt to roll

This is one rule that a lot of black belts like to use to tease lower belts. Most black belts that I’ve seen don’t actually care if a lower belt asks them to roll, many will encourage it. But if you’re at an old school academy, you will definitely hear stuff like this. It’s meant to be a sign of respect, indicating that you can’t go out and just challenge a black belt. This rule does have some practical applications, such as if eager white belts continually ask a black belt to roll but that black belt really needs to train with more advanced people. So the rule makes it easy for the black belt to just choose the training partners he needs without constantly brushing off white and blue belts. If you are an instructor, then you do have a responsibility to roll with the lower belts since you are their teacher. 

  1. Line up for bow-in at the beginning and end of every class

Most of these rules are rooted from judo, and in judo the bow-in is very important. Students are lined up by belt rank and your toes must be perfectly inline with the mat that everyone is standing on. Your gis and belts must be perfectly tied and folded and you have to stand with perfect posture. There is no talking in the line and once your instructor drops to his knees, everyone else follows by belt rank - then you bow out.

  1. Bow-in before entering and leaving the dojo/mat

This is something that is embedded in Japanese culture in general, but since jiu-jitsu is from Japan originally, a lot of gyms like to do this. It is a sign of respect to your instructor and teammates and also a display of discipline – an essential part of any martial art. 

  1. You can never say no to a roll invite

Although this seems contradictory to the first point on this list, this rule applies more to those moments when you’re already tired or injured a bit and you’d rather stop. 

This is another old Japanese judo rule, to show the ‘warrior spirit’, but there is no shame in stopping if your next roll has a high chance of leading to injury. When those guys with ‘warrior spirit’ hit forty years of age, they really wished they had been a bit more protective! 

  1. Random nail checkups

This one is more random than the others, but does have a lot of logic to it. Having long nails in a contact sport like this is a huge ‘no-no’. Long nails carry a lot of bacteria and could transfer if/when they cut or scrape a partner. Sometimes in judo classes, people with long nails are either not allowed into class or they have to pay some sort of fitness fee, like push-ups, burpees or crunches.




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Topics: Academy Etiquette, BJJ in Everyday Life

3 Different Types of BJJ Grading

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Apr 3, 2015 4:00:00 PM




It’s no secret that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not as organized as it could be, though it is moving in the right direction. If you compare it with any of the other martial arts out there like judo, wrestling, and more traditional martial arts, you can see it is still a developing sport.

BJJ has some monitoring with large organizations such as the IBJJF, but there are no strong guidelines on how someone should be graded or receive their next belt. What follows are just some of the different forms of grading that have either been translated onto the mat for BJJ or that may help form a proper grading structure if implemented.


1. The “judo style” grading.


This is usually held at academies with instructors that have either a strong background in judo, or just like the structure of judo grading.

In judo, there are a certain amount of techniques and experience one must have before receiving their belt. Every school must be registered with the International Judo Federation and that automatically registers their students as well.

These belt tests are very formal - the students that are up for grading must demonstrate, in front of the class, a set list of techniques that the instructor has outlined for that belt. The test begins with a technique demo and is then followed by rolling in front of the class. Of course, this is not the only criteria that is necessary to be graded - experience in competition and seminars, prompt attendance, and attitude are also important factors.


2. The “rolling” grading.


This type of grading is usually more focused on rolling skill. What takes priority here is not the amount of knowledge a student has, but more so their ability to apply all the techniques in a real-time situation. This is important for all belt grading, but in this case it is more of a priority. It means that even if a student has a small repertoire of techniques, but uses those well (especially against people of his own rank), then that would be enough to give them a boost to the next level. This would not pass for the “judo” style of grading since there are certain techniques that the student must know, even if they cannot use it in a real scenario.

During this type of grading, the instructor can walk around the mats and actively monitor how the students are rolling to make his final decision on who is ready to be graded. Sometimes small shark tank sessions are held to see how the students handle pressure. At the end of the day, things like attendance and attitude still have an effect on the instructor’s decision.


3. No formal grading.

Nothing formal with no set dates or tests. At this point, it’s purely dependent on the judgement of the instructor and how the students train and behave all year around. The teacher knows if those students have had good attendance, their performance in tournaments and in the gym. This could be after a tournament or just after a good rolling session. When the time is right, they just hand the belt to the deserving student.




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Topics: Academy Etiquette

Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Attend Jiu-Jitsu Class Regularly

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Dec 18, 2014 1:22:47 PM



Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Attend Jiu-Jitsu Class Regularly


  1. Maintaining Sharp Technique

    Technique does not develop itself. Neither is it downloaded into your brain and muscles when you practice it only five times. Repetition is the key to your brain and body remembering anything. There have been studies stating that in order to be an expert in any field, you must dedicate one thousand hours to it. Whether it’s true or not, the message is clear - you have to practice, practice and then practice some more. That’s why so many BJJ champions and coaches claim that drilling is the key to success in jiu-jitsu. Remembering it in your mind is not enough since jiu-jitsu requires your full body motion - you have to train your body to remember the techniques so you can execute them without thinking. This is also a great way to remembering details, which are usually first to leave your memory when taking time off of training.


  2. Shows respect to your instructor

    Are you thinking that you may be ready for your next belt? Even if you feel you are technically sound and talented, if you’re missing in action most of the time at your academy, it is less likely that you will be promoted. People forget that jiu-jitsu is still a martial art, no matter how sportive it has become. You need to come to class regularly to show your professor discipline and dedication. When a professor gives away a belt he is entrusting you with upholding his reputation and also expects that you will be in the school to help the other students improve. Coming to class regularly doesn’t mean everyday, but it does mean coming in at least a couple of times per week on a consistent basis, without several month gaps.


  1. Helping your teammates improve

    As mentioned in the latter point, coming regularly to class is important because you help others in your academy improve as well. In cities where jiu-jitsu is not yet so popular, it is hard to come by good training partners or even many partners. Once you join an academy you are part of the team and you are dependent on each other to improve. Likewise, while you help your teammates improve, they will help you improve. Teammates motivate each other by being there to help each other train and also there are non-training factors that add to giving the academy a good vibe and having larger classes.


  1. Staying in shape

    People forget how great of a workout BJJ really is. Probably one of the worst feelings is taking time off exercising and then realizing that not only have you gained weight, but you’re also grossly out of shape. Conditioning fizzles away quicker than technique, so it’s a horrible feeling when you return to BJJ and realize that even though there are techniques that you remember and want execute, your body will not comply because your cardio has diminished. It also makes it harder for you to come back to training after feeling like this - it will really take some serious motivation. Try to avoid taking time off, unless you’re treating an injury. Coming back to training and being out of shape is one of the worst feelings to endure.



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Topics: Academy Etiquette, Training Hints and Tips, BJJ in Everyday Life

5 Things to Focus on When Teaching BJJ to Children

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May 1, 2014 2:07:00 PM



     1. Safety

Most parents who send their children to martial art classes usually have very little experience in the martial arts themselves. This means that the first thing that comes to mind for them is ‘is this safe for my child?’ Unlike many other activities that they could be sending their children to, martial arts is usually full contact, especially the more athletic based ones like wrestling, judo and BJJ. So, it is the responsibility of the academy and the instructor to make sure that the classes are as safe as possible. How can you insure this? Well, there is no 100% guarantee to avoid accidents, but there are ways to really diminish the possibilities. 

Firstly, spacing is really important. This applies to adults as well, but kids are far more clumsy and less conscious of their surroundings. So make sure that there is enough space between the pairs of kids practicing. If your class is too large, then you have to incorporate some sort of activity that allows for shifts – some students sit and rest while others work, or divide the class in a way where some kids are doing an activity that takes up less space while the others do activities that involve more space because they are in pairs, working with a partner.

Secondly, another good tip, although seemingly minor, is to never keep your back facing the class. The instructor needs to face and see as much as the class as possible to spot potentially dangerous positions and moments before they turn into injuries - such as children performing a technique poorly.

  1. Balance


It’s already quite obvious that teaching methods used for adults and children are very different. With adults, you can jump into technique details as much as you want, relative to the level of the students. But with young children, technical details have to be approached differently, and sometimes, the goal is not necessarily to have them remember the actual technique, but to develop things that are far more innate, such as balance and conditioning their bodies for the future in jiu-jitsu. Of course, there are talented children that pickup technique the same way adults do, but for the most part, children should learn to prepare their bodies so that when they are older to learn more of the details, they will do so with ease.


  1. Fun


You can try to be as serious as you want as an instructor, but the truth is, kids can’t focus for as long as adults can, so you have to find creative ways to teach them while making it fun at the same time. Games are, of course, a great way of engaging them. Games can include things related to themes like balance, learning breakfalls or gaining agility and flexibility. A game also has to be something that is dynamic and constantly changing so that the kids can stay focused. If the activity drags on for too long you will always notice a drop in enthusiasm. So classes have to be fast-paced and full of energy.


     4. Discipline


One of the main reasons a lot of parents send their children to martial arts is because they want their child to learn how to abide by rules and develop a sense of respect for the people around them. Often, kids that are troublesome at home are sent to martial arts classes to be disciplined. Although dealing with misbehaving children is not the goal of BJJ classes, this is a reality that instructors will face on a regular basis.


It’s hard to turn away a membership signup because a child misbehaves in classes. However, there are different levels of bad behavior and therefore it really depends on the skill of the instructor for how they will deal with this.


Many children, especially ages 6-9 have short attention spans and could easily lose focus during the class. They could start talking to others or even stop practicing techniques at any given moment. It is up to the instructor to keep things dynamic and exciting. However, sometimes you will run into children that can be aggressive or refuse to listen completely. They could talk back to the instructor and basically have no positive response to anything that is said to them. In this case, if the situation gets really bad, and nothing can be done, it is well worth it to tell the parents that the child cannot attend classes any more. When there is an uncontrollable child in the class, not only does it disturb the other children from learning, but it also makes the instructor look bad that he is incapable of dealing with the child. It’s bad for business and bad for the students.


5. Values


This is probably one of the most important things a child can take home from a jiu-jitsu class. Besides learning to defend themselves on a practical level, should they be bullied at school or worse, they also learn values on how to treat other people on a day-to-day basis.


Firstly, kids that train jiu-jitsu are far less likely to be aggressive towards others. Any buildup of energy is released in the class and they also learn how to gently practice with their peers. They learn how to communicate and interact with people of all backgrounds, depending on where you are in the world. The list just goes on.


But most importantly, children learn respect. They learn to respect their elders, authorities and peers. When a child learns a throw, they learn how to be gentle even though they are doing something seemingly violent.


Another type of discipline they learn is dedication. Children who go to jiu-jitsu class regularly learn how consistency can yield good results. They will see this eventually when they are graded and receive a new stripe or belt. That’s why gradings are so important because it summarizes all the hard work they have done in the past. A lot of these habits are learned subconsciously and your children will not realize their importance until much later in their lives. But when they do, they will be thankful to their parents for making the effort of taking them to class.


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Topics: Academy Etiquette, Jiu-Jitsu "Top 10" Lists

Why It’s Important to Get to Know Your Teammates

Posted by admin

Mar 20, 2014 2:18:00 PM

Get to know your teammates

There has been an argument going around for years now debating whether jiu-jitsu can be considered a team sport or not. We all know that once you start rolling, whether it’s at the academy or at a tournament, you’re on your own. However, you don’t get there on your own. You’re only as good as your training partners, which means you’re only as good as your team. In BJJ, team pride has become something of great importance, and you can see this at every tournament, especially the large ones. Teammates arrive dressed in their team t-shirts and carry banners. Awards are also given out to the top ranking teams. So although on the surface, you can’t call BJJ a team sport, the team factor is definitely prevalent in jiu-jitsu culture.


Getting to know your teammates is unbelievably important to your success, whether you’re a professional or not. It’ll happen naturally most of the time anyway, but it’s good to put in the effort to also hang out with them off the mats. This is great for keeping the right mentality for your training. Positivity is one of the things that is necessary in any academy. If everyone is friendly and respects each other, then everyone can just improve that much more.


Some academies stress this importance on team spirit more than others. There are academies that have a very uninvolved approach with their students - students simply go train and then go home. No one really stays to ‘chit chat’ and there are no events held to develop team chemistry. The teams that do value chemistry go to great lengths to support this. Academies design team shirts, patches and events to keep everyone happy with their training. Events can range from holiday dinners, parties and barbeques all the way to in-house tournaments. As your academy grows in numbers, and in years, strong relationships will start to form and it will start to feel like you’re a family. Birthdays will become team events, as well as other important occasions.


The truth is, BJJ is more than just a sport or a martial art, it has become a lifestyle, and spending time with your team is part of it. Not only do you make life-long friends, but you also share the daily grind of training and improving your technique. It’s your teammates that push you. Take a look at the top jiu-jitsu teams in the world like Alliance, Atos and especially Gracie Barra; all these teams, at their core, have very strong team values and that’s why they are so big today. It is not just the training that has been able to foster great champions from this team, but the fact that all these top athletes felt that they were with family and everyone knew each other so well. In traditional team sports, like basketball and soccer, people take into account team chemistry when judging how good a team is. Chemistry is not only the way the team plays together technically, but also how well they know each other’s games – they can predict what move their teammate is going to make. The same thing works with jiu-jitsu when training in the academy. You can judge the worth of an academy not just by how smart a team trains technically, but also by the mood in the gym and how the teammates interact. This is an aspect in jiu-jitsu that perhaps more academies should work on emphasizing and developing. 

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